Introducing Unapologetic GAY Romance Under New Pen Name

Unapologetic Gay Romance because Love Needs No Excuses

Our world generally sucks. Children die from poison-gas in Syria, drown in the ocean while trying to get away from slaughter, and are abused again and again (Hungary, anybody?) because they dare to want to survive. And that’s just in the so-called 3rd world countries.

In our oh-so-civilized nations, street kids get hooked on drugs, work as prostitutes, are abandoned by their parents, the state, most adults they ever come in touch with.

Looking at all the shit in the news every day, forgive me if I try to find a glimmer of hope amongst the suffering. And if people find and cling onto each other, for comfort, support, and yes, love, I want to cherish that. It’s a fricking miracle it happens at all!

So that’s why my motto is Unapologetic Romances Because Love Needs No Excuses

Let Me Take This a Little Further

Love is love. What that means is that as long as people love each other, I don’t give a toss whether they’re attracted to male, female, queer, trans, whatever.

After humming and hawing for months, I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and launch my new website dedicated to m/m romance writing.

In order to avoid confusiong my readers—although I’d be more than happy to take anybody along on this journey—, I’ll publish my gay romance novels under the pen name EJ Smyth

If You Haven’t Read in the Gay Romance Genre Yet, Here’s Your Chance

The first time I read a gay romance novel, I was blown away. Apart from the hotness factor (and yes, if you don’t like steamy, this may not be the genre for you!), the writing was incredible. Fast-paced, awesome characterization, fascinating dynamics between the main characters.

If you’re interested, here’s a list of a couple of writers I’d highly recommend. One thing you’ll find is that gay romance books cost more than regular romance books. However, most of them are also in Kindle Unlimited, so it’s not all bad!

N.R. Walker

One of my favorite writers in the genre. She’s Australian and has written a series of books, set in the outback. It’s a fish-out-of-water romance, both from the Aussie farmer’s and American student’s point-of-view. Just adorable!

Red Dirt Heart

 

 

Cronin’s Key

N.R. Walker is a hugely prolific writer. I honestly can’t keep up with her publishing speed. If your thing is more Urban Fantasy Romance, check out Cronin’s Key. It has just been released as an audiobook with one of my favorite voice-actors Joel Froom. Well worth a listen!

 

And just to give you a flavor of what else she writes, here is a story about an overweight guy with massive self-esteem problems whose personal trainer helps him fall in love with himself. And with the trainer. You know what I mean 😀 Anyway, the story is ADORABLE!

The Weight of It All

 

Madeleine Urban

She wrote a series of thrillers that revived a genre that I’d given up on reading because it’d become so predictable.

It’s a classic enemy-to-friends-to-lovers story. The characters are stubborn assholes, two FBI agents that hate each others’ gut. So much sass, humor, drama, angst, cuteness—I couldn’t stop reading.

Cut & Run

I wrote a review for this book and the series which you can read here.

 

Josh Lanyon

An author who has defined the genre. Incredibly prolific albeit not always consistent. This series hits it out of the park, though.

Adrien English, an unassuming bookstore owner, is accused of murder and has to clear his name. His nemesis is a homophobic detective who’s convinced Adrien is guilty. Adrien suffers from an acquired heart condition, but is certainly no swooning maiden to be rescued. Far from it! Very funny, touching, reminiscent of classic British detective stories of the 1940s.

Fatal Shadows

Here is the review for the book as well!

JL Merrow

Staying with the British theme, JL Merrow’s books are set in the UK. Her dialogue is pure Brit, and her characters are guys I recognize from my time in London. The series I enjoyed most is unfortunately on hold until 2018, along with Camwolf about a reluctant werewolf in Cambridge.

 

 

There are other books like the Shamwell Tales (think Midsumer Murders) because JL Merrow is another prolific writer with a huge back catalogue.

Plumber’s Mate Series

 

 

Amy Lane

The last author I’d like to recommend writes Magical Realism. Her Candy Man series may not be hard-hitting social criticism but it’s cute, fluffy, humorous and exciting. Pure relaxation.

Candy Man

 

 

And if you want to read funny, here is Shiny! A story about a very, very clumsy guy who needs rescuing from himself. Hilarious!

Shiny!

 

 

 

I hope you like my short list. I’d compiled it for a German friend of mine who had only just started reading in the genre and needed help. There’s a lot more books out there!

What do you think, have you read any of them? Would you recommend others?

And don’t forget to pop over to my new site to pick up a free, very sexy short story!

The Werewolf Meets his Match by Kristen Painter

The Werewolf Meets his Match by Kristen Painter

My rating: 5 out of 5

The Story

WerewolfWelcome to Nocturne Falls, the town that celebrates Halloween 365 days a year.

The tourists think it’s all a show: the vampires, the werewolves, the witches, the occasional gargoyle flying through the sky. But the supernaturals populating the town know better.

Living in Nocturne Falls means being yourself. Fangs, fur, and all.

Getting arrested wasn’t on werewolf Ivy Kincaid’s agenda when she arrived in Nocturne Falls, but her life rarely goes according to plan. The upside of spending the night in the local lock-up is finding a hotel room is no longer a worry…but the downside is the man she’s come to marry will get his first impression of her behind bars. Not exactly the way Ivy was hoping to meet her pack’s sworn enemy…aka her fiancé.

Sheriff (and werewolf) Hank Merrow is the alpha’s heir. Everything he’s ever done, from becoming an Army Ranger to serving in law enforcement, has been in preparation for the day he’ll take over. Getting married to cement a shaky truce is no different. Hank will do his duty, even if it means shackling himself to a woman he has no intention of liking, let alone loving.

But Ivy is nothing like Hank expected. As feisty as she is beautiful, she’s as determined as he is to make a go of marriage for the sake of peace between their packs. The trouble is, Ivy has secrets that could destroy everything Hank holds dear…including his newfound love for her.

My Take on it

Kristen Painter has an amazing skill to draw the reader into her world. From the minute ivy walks into the bar, I loved her. She rides a motorcycle, is tattooed, has ‘strong shoulders’ and takes crap from no-one. Contrast that with her sense of duty and doing what’s right for her pack, and you have a woman I’d love to meet in real life. Just saying 🙂

All the characters are 3-dimensional, even children and baddies. I’m very much in love with Hank, the lead love interest. He’s a werewolf sheriff, dutiful, trained to be a fighter and such a  gentleman. Swoon….

There’s unfortunately no sex scene which doesn’t detract from the fully rounded romance story, although I personally prefer to at least look through the keyhole into my characters’ bedroom. Just sayin’.

I was particularly impressed by a really impressive plot twist that I really didn’t see coming. Painter builds up expectations and brings them crashing down on the reader. Just awesome.

Course I’ve gone and downloaded the next book which features Nick the Gargoyle plus you get to purchase the Audible version for $1.99. This deal isn’t available for The Werewolf Meets His Match so I didn’t get to listen to the audio book.

I’m really looking forward to exploring the world of Nocturne Falls in more detail!

Let me know if you agree or disagree 🙂

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The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride by Kristen Painter

The Vampire’s Mail Order Bride by Kristen Painter

My rating: 5 out of 5

The Story

vampiresmailorderbrideWelcome to Nocturne Falls, the town that celebrates Halloween 365 days a year.

The tourists think it’s all a show: the vampires, the werewolves, the witches, the occasional gargoyle flying through the sky. But the supernaturals populating the town know better.

Living in Nocturne Falls means being yourself. Fangs, fur, and all.

After seeing her maybe-mobster boss murder a guy, Delaney James assumes a new identity and pretends to be a mail order bride. She finds her groom-to-be living in a town that celebrates Halloween every day. Weird. But not as weird as what she doesn’t know. Her groom-to-be is a 400-year-old vampire.

Hugh Ellingham has only agreed to the arranged set up to make his overbearing grandmother happy. In thirty days, whatever bridezilla shows up at his door will be escorted right back out. His past means love is no longer an option. Not if the woman’s going to have a future. Except he never counted on Delaney and falling in love for real.

Too bad both of them are keeping some mighty big secrets…

My take on it

I very much enjoyed the book. The cover suggests a fluffy romp which it starts out as – there are no explicit scenes and all sex happens behind closed door. This doesn’t detract from the overall sexiness of the tale though. It’s written really well and I read it in a day, even though I tend to enjoy my books a little darker with more hurt / comfort.

The story quickly deepens and Delaney is faced with a life-or-death decision, both in regards to her love life but also when her past catches up with her. The first instalment concentrates on Delaney and her love interest Hugh.

There are so many more interesting characters that I would love to find out more about, such as the werewolf sheriff, Hugh’s brothers who both have issues with women, and the gargoyle Nick.

But what I loved most, despite the inane title (I’m generally not fond of  ‘mail order bride romances’) is the characterisation of the heroine. She’s so cool, from her love of all things chocolate to her slight dizziness. She’s smart, kick-ass and doesn’t take crap from the gorgeous vampire.

The author manages to conclude the story nicely while leaving many questions open: will Delaney open her dream shop? How will the competition react? Who else will find love?

Can’t wait to read the next volume!

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The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

 

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 5 out of 5

The Colour of MagicThe story

Terry Pratchett’s profoundly irreverent, bestselling novels have garnered him a revered position in the halls of parody next to the likes of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen. The Color of Magic is Terry Pratchett’s maiden voyage through the now-legendary land of Discworld. This is where it all begins — with the tourist Twoflower and his wizard guide, Rincewind.

 

My take on it

The first of Terry Pratchett’s novels and the one that got me hooked. Wonderful detail and world-building.

It introduces Cohen the Barbarian, now over 100 years old but still keen on fighting and chasing girls. And when he catches them? Nothing like soft female hands for rubbing liniment on aching legs!

Death is a scary 7-foot skeleton that envies humans for their domesticity. He tries so hard to copy them but never gets it quite right…

So many memorable characters nestled in one of the most complete and amazing worlds you’ll ever immerse yourself in.Treat yourself and start reading the Discworld novels. You won’t regret it!!

The books are becoming harder to find, particularly with the stunning artwork displayed in the cover above.

Let me know if you’re read it and agree with me below!

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Witches Abroad by Terry Prachett

 

Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

witches-abroad-2The story

Be careful what you wish for…

Once upon a time there was a fairy godmother named Desiderata who had a good heart, a wise head, and poor planning skills—which unfortunately left the Princess Emberella in the care of her other (not quite so good and wise) godmother when DEATH came for Desiderata. So now it’s up to Magrat Garlick, Granny Weatherwax, and Nanny Ogg to hop on broomsticks and make for far-distant Genua to ensure the servant girl doesn’t marry the Prince.

But the road to Genua is bumpy, and along the way the trio of witches encounters the occasional vampire, werewolf, and falling house (well this is a fairy tale, after all). The trouble really begins once these reluctant foster-godmothers arrive in Genua and must outwit their power-hungry counterpart who’ll stop at nothing to achieve a proper “happy ending”—even if it means destroying a kingdom.

My take on it

A true classic by a writing genius. Terry Pratchett was taken from us far too soon. This book is based on Shakespeare’s MacBeth except the witches have the main role. Meet some of the most kickass, eccentric old ladies (and a younger one) you’ll ever encounter!

Written in Terry’s typical rambling yet never boring style, I have read and re-read this particular book over and over again for the last 20 years.

Imaginative, exciting story-telling pulls you into the magical world of the Discworld, carried on the back of the Great A’Tuin the World Turtle. Need I say more? Go and read it, it’ll grip you and will never let you go!

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Sticks & Stones by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux



Sticks & Stones
 by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban

My rating:  5 of 5 stars

SticksandStonesThe story

Six months after nearly losing their lives to a serial killer in New York City, FBI Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett are suffering through something almost as frightening: the monotony of desk duty. When they’re ordered to take a vacation for the good of everyone’s sanity, Ty bites the bullet and takes Zane home with him to West Virginia, hoping the peace and quiet of the mountains will give them the chance to explore the explosive attraction they’ve so far been unable to reconcile with their professional partnership.

Ty and Zane, along with Ty’s father and brother, head up into the Appalachian mountains for a nice, relaxing hike deep into the woods… where no one will hear them scream. They find themselves facing danger from all directions: unpredictable weather, the unrelenting mountains, wild animals, fellow hikers with nothing to lose, and the most terrifying challenge of all. Each other.

My take on it

Part 2 of the series about two rough and ready FBI agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett. This time the boys are exploring the Appalachian mountains with Ty’s father and brother. Zane is not a nature person. At all. More bickering and angst ensues, especially since Ty’s father has unresolved issues with his son. These eventually lead to a dangerous series of events that could very well end in tragedy.

I couldn’t decide on just a few quotes – this book is just THAT good 🙂

“Are you still pissy about the rubber band cannon?” Ty asked him in exasperation.
“Ugh.” Zane started unbuttoning the BDU blouse. “You’re lucky that guy from accounting didn’t know it was you when his toupee went flying. He might have rerouted your next paycheck to Greenpeace.”

“Zane’s lips quirked. Every bullet fired from a service weapon had to be accompanied with a written report for the Bureau. Ty had fired… quite a few bullets at the cab that had almost smeared them across the highway in New York City. Zane didn’t know what paperwork you had to fill out for throwing your gun at something. He’d never tried that before. Hell, he’d never even thought of it before.”

“It’s all fun and games ’til somebody throws a grenade,”
[…]
“Never bring stones to a grenade fight,” Ty advised sagely.”

“I won’t let you fall.” Then he winced apologetically. Very trite. He sighed. Trite but true.

“It probably hadn’t been the greatest idea, dragging him up here for his first hike. But Ty was sure he’d been enjoying himself before they were almost killed. Repeatedly.”

“What he was afraid of, he’d come to realize, was not dark spaces or falling from great heights or being buried alive. His greatest fears, in the end, were letting down those he loved and saying the words “I love you” without any hope of hearing them in return.”

Yeah, in case it wasn’t obvious – I love this book.  Meet Ty’s grandfather who kills water hoses with a sharpened spade. Ty’s brother and parents who love him in their own ways. Nature that is out to kill you in many inventive ways 🙂

And I’ve changed my mind: MEET THE REAL TY GRADY!

 

Ty Grady

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Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon

Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon

My rating:  5 of 5 stars

Fatal Shadows Josh LanyonThe story

One sunny morning Los Angeles bookseller and aspiring mystery author Adrien English opens his front door to murder. His old high school buddy (and employee) has been found stabbed to death in a back alley following a loud and very public argument with Adrien the previous evening.

Naturally the cops want to ask Adrien a few questions; they are none too impressed with his answers, and when a few hours later someone breaks into Adrien’s shop and ransacks it, the law is inclined to think Adrien is trying to divert suspicion from himself.

Adrien knows better. Adrien knows he is next on the killer’s list.

My take on it

Somebody pointed me towards Josh Lanyon and boy, am I glad they did! Given that Josh is listed under LBTG and Gay Thriller / Romance on Amazon, I probably wouldn’t have discovered these books by myself. I started reading Fatal Shadows without being aware that the protagonist and love interest are both male. Not that it made the slightest bit of difference – I finished the book within a day and a half, it was that awesome 🙂

The protagonist is Adrien English, mystery writer and owner of the Cloak and Dagger bookstore in LA. Adrien is a kick-ass, yet strangely vulnerable hero. An acquired heart condition makes it difficult for him to tolerate sudden physical or emotional stress. He doesn’t let it hold him back but occasionally, his physical condition impacts on the plot. I love the way the author has handled this. Rather than dump a physical handicap on the hero as a means of making him more interesting, the heart condition is an integral part of the plot.

Adrien becomes the suspect in the murder of one of his oldest friends and employees. Jake Riordan, one of the detectives investigating the case, is bisexual but so far in the closet, he’d do pretty much anything to not be exposed. There is an immediate attraction between the two men which grows stronger throughout the book. Both men are struggling against it for different reasons.

What made the book so amazing to me is the wealth of supporting characters, from Adrien’s overbearing mother to the members of a book writing group meeting at Cloak and Dagger. Add this to the cohesive plot, great characterisation, very cool dialogue and the at times lyrical descriptions, you have an exciting thriller with a great romance woven through, with a touch of 1940s noir storytelling.

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First Grave on the Right

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First Grave on the Right (Charley Davidson, #1)The story

First Grave on the Right is the smashing, award-winning debut novel that introduces Charley Davidson: part-time private investigator and full-time Grim Reaper.

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e., murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an Entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

This is a thrilling debut novel from Darynda Jones, an exciting newcomer to the world of paranormal romantic suspense.

First Grave on the Right is the winner of the 2012 Rita Award for Best First Book.

My take on it

So finished the book yesterday and had to get the next one right away. I feel a bit conflicted as to how well I liked it. On the one hand, it seemed to be shallow in parts where the author could have gone into more depth but on the other hand, it read really really fast because of it. I liked the level of excitement, I certainly didn’t get bored at any stage.

Not sure if this is a spoiler so I’ll use the tag just to be on the safe side 🙂

(view spoiler)

Thankfully the sex scenes were steamy rather than embarrassing. That’s always a huge problem for me when sex scenes are so cliche that I feel like face-palming myself. Shudder. I don’t like to fall out of my reading zone because the author screwed up a sex scene, I’d rather it weren’t there at all 🙂

I loved Reyes. At times it felt like he was a bit of an excuse to get Charley out of a tight spot, but I have a soft spot for hot tall mysterious strangers.

The dead characters are fascinating. I always like having well fleshed-out secondary characters and some of them are hilarious.

So all in all, I really enjoyed the read. It was fast and furious, funny and sexy and so far, the second book is equally good.

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How to Fix Your Novel

 

How to Fix Your Novel by Steve Alcorn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How to Fix Your NovelThe Story

Have you started a novel, only to get part way into the manuscript and find yourself stuck? Or do you have an idea for a novel, but aren’t sure where to begin? Have you completed a first draft, but feel it doesn’t quite have the luster of professional writing?

In this lively and fun-to-read guide, Steve Alcorn shows you the remedies you need to achieve success. Step by step, you’ll breathe life into old manuscripts, create new novels that read like bestsellers, and put the spark back into your writing life. Topics include:

Story Structure
Character Building
Viewpoint
Tense
Voice
Setting
Conflict
Suspense
Mystery
Dialogue
Writing Big
Beginnings and Endings
Getting Published

Whether you’re a first time novelist still planning your story, or an experienced author looking for ways to bring your fiction to life, How to Fix Your Novel is the ideal prescription.

Steve Alcorn is a theme park designer, author and teacher. His novels include mysteries, young adult stories, historic fiction and romance. During the past decade Mr. Alcorn has helped more than 10,000 aspiring writers fix their novels and polish their manuscripts, through the online learning programs of 1500 colleges and universities worldwide. Now you can learn those same techniques in this fun and easy-to-use guide.

My take on it

It’s taking me a long time to read this book, not because it’s unreadable but because I am putting each point into action as I go along. Steve has managed to break down the act of plotting and writing a novel into logical, easy to follow steps. I’m finding it hard to grasp the concept of scene and sequel, but I think that’s more my shortcoming then Steve’s.

All in all, I would recommend this book to anybody thinking about writing a novel. Preferably before you even begin to plot!

Do you agree with my comments? Let me know and post below 🙂

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Author 2.0

 

Author2-0 J.F. Penn

Author 2.0 Blueprint by J.F. Penn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Read through this quickly. Then spent 3 x the time following the links in the book. There is so much information on how to write, how to self-publish, how to market yourself and your book. Great and free! Thanks so much, Joanna!

Do you agree with my comments? Let me know and post below 🙂

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